`Tis the season to catch up on your gardening reading and dreaming
by Nancy Oakes
With the unseasonably warm temperatures, I've been taking the occasional tour of the garden. I've tried to stay clear of the fear and paranoia that seems to be running rampant the closer we get to 2000. But just to be on the safe side, I listened as I strolled for any indication that the giant Y2K bug was lurking underground, waiting to pounce on unsuspecting roots and leaves. Waiting to suck back centuries of hybridizing so that only species plants are left. But all I could hear were the gentle sounds of plants at rest. Pheeww! One less thing to worry about!
So... let the armchair chair gardening begin! This is the time of year I collect all the gardening magazines that I didn't have time to read during the summer and start making lists of new plants to try. (Although we all know that once the catalogues start arriving, selections start getting checked off with rather wild abandon-gardeners are nothing if not delusional about how much time and space they have). I also keep my eye peeled for anything new at the library and Confed Centre has three new items that may be of interest.
A hefty volume, Perennial Ground Covers, by David MacKenzie is a wonderful resource. If your idea of ground covers is ivy, goutweed and Sweet Woodruff, it may change your mind. Roses, ornamental grasses and hostas are just a few of the species that it covers. And many that one would never define as ground covers are included. That makes it an excellent plant reference. It can give you a whole new perspective on what makes a garden work.
Timber Press's series of Gardener's Guides do wonders for specific plant genera. Confed Centre has the The Gardener's Guide to Salvias by John Sutton. I've already found sources for two perennial ones, S. forsskaolii and S. lyrata, that are on my new wish list as a result of this book. It got me so inspired that I may even venture into the world of annuals with S. viridis `Claryssa' and S. farinacea `Victoria,' with purple stems and flowers. The series also includes ones on hardy geraniums, hostas and daylilies (the last two are stocked at the Bookmark).
And just the thing for a lazy, stormy, winter day is the four tape audio set In Your Garden. It's a series of readings of Vita Sackville-West's writings from the late 1940s. While some of the plants discussed are not hardy here, it's still a real joy to listen to and the reader, Janet McTeer has one of those incredibly soothing, very English voices. I had originally borrowed it over the summer, thinking I would listen to it as I worked in the garden, but it's much more suitable for a stormy winter's day whilst leafing through all those catalogues and dreaming of the garden yet to come.